Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Restless Legs Syndrome
Periodic-Limb-Movement-Disorder.jpgAnother disorder that affects the limbs,
and affects a person’s ability to sleep at night and function normally
during the day, is Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). While the leg
movements of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) are a voluntary response to
ease the uncomfortable feelings in the limbs when a person is awake, the
movements of PLMD occur most often when a person is asleep and are involuntary.
People with PLMD are often not aware of these movements, although they
may occasionally notice the involuntary movements of PLMD while they are
awake. Bed partners can notice the leg movements, often by a slight jerking
of the mattress or bed. Most people with RLS have PLMD, but patients with
PLMD often do not have RLS.
Five to 10 percent of the population experience the discomfort or pain
of RLS at some time in their lives. Severe cases of RLS, although not
common, can be hereditary. The disorder is more common in older individuals
but can occur at any age in both men and women.
PLMD is rare in people under 30 years of age, but becomes more common
as people grow older. PLMD affects 5 percent of people age 30-50; 25 percent
of people age 50-65; and 44 percent of people over age 65. Men and women
are equally likely to be affected.
Causes of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Restless Legs Syndrome
Approximately 30 percent of RLS cases have a hereditary cause. For the
other 70 percent, the causes are not yet clearly known, however some situations
seem to have a connection with the symptoms of RLS. These can include
poor blood circulation in the legs, nerve problems, muscle disorders,
kidney disease, alcoholism and vitamin or mineral deficiencies. The cause
of PLMD is also unclear. The same factors that are associated with RLS
are associated with PLMD.
Treatment Options for Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Restless Legs Syndrome
The first step in treating RLS or PLMD is to make the proper diagnosis
and determine any underlying causes. When home remedies are not effective,
such as regular exercise and leg massages, your healthcare provider can
treat RLS with medications. The effectiveness of a particular drug will
depend on the severity of the condition, additional medical conditions
and other medications that the patient is taking.